Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Do you read the stimulus or question stem first?

Stimulus
125
53%
Question Stem
112
47%
 
Total votes: 237

User avatar
BigA
Posts: 448
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:22 am

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby BigA » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:00 am

I am experimenting with both right now. It seems like there are some questions for which I would like to read the stem first. Main Point and Parallel questions to name a couple. But there are instances, like "Except" questions or where there is a little more in the stem than your basic question type, where it is too much info to keep track of and I'll have to re-read it. So in short, I don't know

User avatar
EdmundBurke23
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:37 am

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby EdmundBurke23 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:07 am

HBK wrote:I found that after enough practice I did far better reading the stimulus first. After doing a boatload of pts and studying the bible, I got a feel for what the question was going to ask before I even read it. This worked well enough for me. Reading the stimulus first allowed me to better evaluate the argument: conclusion, evidence, deficiencies, fallacies.

Plus it saves time to really concentrate on the tough ones.

In full disclosure, I missed an average of 4-5 LRs per exam.


These people are an abomination. The Bible tells us through its Ten Commandments (Primary Objectives) that we ought to read the stimulus before reading the question stem. I myself have chosen to read the stimulus first (after about ten PTs worth of experimenting).

But it all boils down to the LSAT prep cliche: Do what's best for you. I already understand that there are potential benefits to reading the stem first. The downfall for me was this: I'd end up having a "bias" towards a stimulus after reading the stem first, because I'd be developing a "prephrase" half way through it. I noticed that this really hurt my ability to render a critical analysis of very difficult passages. It just didn't work for me. Hence, the problem for me wasn't about saving time per se, but was the level of concentration and precision that I'd have in tackling a question.

Pehaps the only reason why I'm commenting on this thread is that it might help others who have similar problems with reading the stem first to switch their strategy to reading the stimulus first.

User avatar
EdmundBurke23
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:37 am

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby EdmundBurke23 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:09 am

Is it just me, or will a bunch of PowerScore execs log onto TLS and start voting "Stimulus" on this thread to sway people away from thinking that their method is just as good as, if not inferior, to Kaplan's.... :D

letsdoit1982
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:59 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby letsdoit1982 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:38 am

BigA wrote:I am experimenting with both right now. It seems like there are some questions for which I would like to read the stem first. Main Point and Parallel questions to name a couple. But there are instances, like "Except" questions or where there is a little more in the stem than your basic question type, where it is too much info to keep track of and I'll have to re-read it. So in short, I don't know


So I guess your scores are pretty much the same with either strategy?

letsdoit1982
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:59 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby letsdoit1982 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:41 am

EdmundBurke23 wrote:
HBK wrote:I found that after enough practice I did far better reading the stimulus first. After doing a boatload of pts and studying the bible, I got a feel for what the question was going to ask before I even read it. This worked well enough for me. Reading the stimulus first allowed me to better evaluate the argument: conclusion, evidence, deficiencies, fallacies.

Plus it saves time to really concentrate on the tough ones.

In full disclosure, I missed an average of 4-5 LRs per exam.


These people are an abomination. The Bible tells us through its Ten Commandments (Primary Objectives) that we ought to read the stimulus before reading the question stem. I myself have chosen to read the stimulus first (after about ten PTs worth of experimenting).

But it all boils down to the LSAT prep cliche: Do what's best for you. I already understand that there are potential benefits to reading the stem first. The downfall for me was this: I'd end up having a "bias" towards a stimulus after reading the stem first, because I'd be developing a "prephrase" half way through it. I noticed that this really hurt my ability to render a critical analysis of very difficult passages. It just didn't work for me. Hence, the problem for me wasn't about saving time per se, but was the level of concentration and precision that I'd have in tackling a question.

Pehaps the only reason why I'm commenting on this thread is that it might help others who have similar problems with reading the stem first to switch their strategy to reading the stimulus first.


Was there a major fluctuation in your scores when you went from one strategy to the other (i.e. getting -2 with stimulus first as opposed to -7 when question stem first)?

User avatar
r2b2ct
Posts: 134
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 1:33 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby r2b2ct » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:04 pm

This is a good question. Honestly I have never tried reading the stem first. Once in a while for a more complex stimulus I glance at the question to determine the type, but I've never thought that reading the stem would be helpful until after reading the stimulus.

I tend to miss 2 or fewer per section. I will have to test out the stem approach to see if it helps perfect this section for me.

letsdoit1982
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:59 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby letsdoit1982 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:36 pm

r2b2ct wrote:This is a good question. Honestly I have never tried reading the stem first. Once in a while for a more complex stimulus I glance at the question to determine the type, but I've never thought that reading the stem would be helpful until after reading the stimulus.

I tend to miss 2 or fewer per section. I will have to test out the stem approach to see if it helps perfect this section for me.



I think many people (myself included) have never read the question stem first simply because Powerscore recommends reading the stimulus first.

skip james
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:53 am

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby skip james » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:52 pm

i think even if it turns out to be fifty fifty, it's gonna be hard to derive useful information from this sort of poll. there are a couple factors that should be considered.

1) the two top prep test sources (testmasters, powerscore) both advocate stimulus first (exempting kaplan, but i think that's fine since they don't tend to generate high scores to begin with).

2) a test taker's natural tendency is going to be to read straight downward, since that's how we've been trained to read since we were wee-little babies.

because of this, i would think that if both methods were equally effective then a poll that suggested equal effectiveness would tend to show a skew towards stimulus first. there are more 'natural' reasons for people to tend to choose that strategy.

my point is that even a 50-50 distribution of stem first/stim first wouldn't necessarily indicate that both strategies are, or are considered to be, equally effective.

letsdoit1982
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:59 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby letsdoit1982 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:09 pm

skip james wrote:i think even if it turns out to be fifty fifty, it's gonna be hard to derive useful information from this sort of poll. there are a couple factors that should be considered.

1) the two top prep test sources (testmasters, powerscore) both advocate stimulus first (exempting kaplan, but i think that's fine since they don't tend to generate high scores to begin with).

2) a test taker's natural tendency is going to be to read straight downward, since that's how we've been trained to read since we were wee-little babies.

because of this, i would think that if both methods were equally effective then a poll that suggested equal effectiveness would tend to show a skew towards stimulus first. there are more 'natural' reasons for people to tend to choose that strategy.

my point is that even a 50-50 distribution of stem first/stim first wouldn't necessarily indicate that both strategies are, or are considered to be, equally effective.


I disagree. Because most people on TLS use Powerscore or Testmasters to study (both of which advocate the stimulus first strategy), then a 50-50 distribution shows that many people on TLS began using the stimulus strategy first approach but then shifted to reading the question stem first. Furthermore, many people that voted for "stimulus" have not tried the other strategy, because TLS and Powerscore say not to.


On a side note, I can't believe that with 120 votes, this poll is cut perfectly down the middle.

andreea7
Posts: 142
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:32 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby andreea7 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:12 pm

Stimulus, absolutely!

letsdoit1982
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:59 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby letsdoit1982 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:39 pm

Is this poll seriously going to end in a dead heat.

User avatar
JohnnyTrojan08
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby JohnnyTrojan08 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:56 am

First off, I went from a 172 to a 180 with self-study only, and never even picked up a testprep book from any company. I also am a private tutor who has worked for 2 years with clients ranging from the 130s to the 170s.

I am a solid advocate for reading the question stem first, with the caveat that it requires more dedicated practice and its effectiveness has a positive relationship with your existing reading skills. For my clients with low reading speed and or slow comprehension, I tend to have them choose; people who read through the whole section with time to spare could always, IMO, improve their accuracy rate by targeting their weaknesses with some classification by question stem.

The important question is, do you know how (and are you able) to purposefully target your reading and analysis of the stimulus AFTER reading the question stem?

Put more simply, do you change what you do based on the stem? Cause if you don't, what's the purpose in knowing that there are different types of questions in the first place? If you know that you have to approach each type of question with a different method, then that will meaningfully change the way that you physically and mentally interact with the stimulus.

For instance, if I'm doing an assumption question, I'm going to be doing more marking than I would for a strengthen question. I also kick my brain into overdrive so that I make sure I'm using all my mental energy on analyzing the stimulus.

This strategy has two reasons:
1) I have a lower natural accuracy rate for assumptions and thus need to engage the stimulus in more depth
2) the methods of marking the stimulus improve my accuracy rate to near perfect

The problem is knowing how to both identify AND approach the tasks you find most difficult on the LSAT. I find the test prep companies taxonomy systems aren't that great for LR, and they do an even poorer job of tailoring their approach to individual students' needs. If you're already scoring above a 165 in timed, full-length PrepTests, you'd probably be better off sitting down with the questions you missed, categorizing them, and then researching different methods that people have posted here, written in books, or find a personal tutor for a few hours.

As almost everyone here has noted, it's a personal decision and you have to do what's right for you. Also, as people point out, the big prep companies who generally know what they're doing advocate stimulus first--I hate that I agree with Kaplan, of all companies. I definitely think that the TSL forums are split between course takers and self-preppers, which is probably why the poll is split.

If you know what you're doing and practice hard, driving manual in Mario Kart Wii takes more work than driving automatic but if you master it, you win more. 8)

Same thing with reading the LSAT question stem first.

ram jam
Posts: 297
Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 1:32 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby ram jam » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:05 pm

I found that once I did thousands of LR questions, I could read the stimulus and know what kind of question that was coming without ever reading the question stem. The questions all follow a similar format. I only briefly read the question stem for key words such as NOT or CANNOT BE, etc. For example, when reading the stimulus first, you notice that an argument is missing a key assumption, then, without reading the question stem, you can find that assumption in the answer choices. Worked for me.

If you understand the stimulus the first time, you will be able to anser the question given the the answer choices without ever reading the question stem. Try it a couple times and you will notice how your mind has been programmed to jump over the question stem. Reading the stem first is a waste of time as it contains no new information.

notanumber
Posts: 485
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:28 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby notanumber » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:10 pm

taw856 wrote:Not that it does anything for this poll, but I would guess that outside of TLS, a lot of people just read the question, think it through, rule out options that don't seem right and answer without thinking about categorizing question types or components of the issue at hand.


Yeah. This is how I dealt with it. I missed 1 LR question on my way to a score in the upper 170s. It was a transcription error. At least for me, focusing on process wastes time.

BenJ
Posts: 1353
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:58 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby BenJ » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:12 pm

Stimulus. The question stem is meaningless without context. Don't categorize question types during the actual test. It's a huge waste of your time. Question type categories are only useful for figuring out what sorts of questions you should be practicing. Also, don't make marks in LR unless you have time left at the end to solve a particularly vexing question you skipped at the beginning. Marks do not help.

-2 on LR, high 170s.

User avatar
swc65
Posts: 1003
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:27 am

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby swc65 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:18 pm

^^^ LOL two high 170s with -2 on LR advocating the exact opposite appraoch. Maybe the trick is the try both and see what works for you.

I always read the question first for LR. That way, especially in a long stimulus, I knew exactly what to look for. Also, once you know all the different types of stems, you can easily scna it for a few key words to know what type of question it is. I helps to read the question first so that you know how to read the stimulus critically. Often the question asks how a particular word or phrase was used. If you read the stimulus first, you then have to look back at the stimulus to put the question in context.

User avatar
whuts4lunch
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:54 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby whuts4lunch » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:20 pm

49/51, I went with stimulus first... found I backtracked to reread the question after the stimulus anyways if I read question first, and I am a slow test taker so I had to save time in every non-accuracy hurting instance possible

loveistheway
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:15 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby loveistheway » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:23 pm

JohnnyTrojan08 wrote:First off, I went from a 172 to a 180 with self-study only, and never even picked up a testprep book from any company. I also am a private tutor who has worked for 2 years with clients ranging from the 130s to the 170s.

I am a solid advocate for reading the question stem first, with the caveat that it requires more dedicated practice and its effectiveness has a positive relationship with your existing reading skills. For my clients with low reading speed and or slow comprehension, I tend to have them choose; people who read through the whole section with time to spare could always, IMO, improve their accuracy rate by targeting their weaknesses with some classification by question stem.

The important question is, do you know how (and are you able) to purposefully target your reading and analysis of the stimulus AFTER reading the question stem?

Put more simply, do you change what you do based on the stem? Cause if you don't, what's the purpose in knowing that there are different types of questions in the first place? If you know that you have to approach each type of question with a different method, then that will meaningfully change the way that you physically and mentally interact with the stimulus.

For instance, if I'm doing an assumption question, I'm going to be doing more marking than I would for a strengthen question. I also kick my brain into overdrive so that I make sure I'm using all my mental energy on analyzing the stimulus.

This strategy has two reasons:
1) I have a lower natural accuracy rate for assumptions and thus need to engage the stimulus in more depth
2) the methods of marking the stimulus improve my accuracy rate to near perfect

The problem is knowing how to both identify AND approach the tasks you find most difficult on the LSAT. I find the test prep companies taxonomy systems aren't that great for LR, and they do an even poorer job of tailoring their approach to individual students' needs. If you're already scoring above a 165 in timed, full-length PrepTests, you'd probably be better off sitting down with the questions you missed, categorizing them, and then researching different methods that people have posted here, written in books, or find a personal tutor for a few hours.

As almost everyone here has noted, it's a personal decision and you have to do what's right for you. Also, as people point out, the big prep companies who generally know what they're doing advocate stimulus first--I hate that I agree with Kaplan, of all companies. I definitely think that the TSL forums are split between course takers and self-preppers, which is probably why the poll is split.

If you know what you're doing and practice hard, driving manual in Mario Kart Wii takes more work than driving automatic but if you master it, you win more. 8)

Same thing with reading the LSAT question stem first.


180

ram jam wrote:I found that once I did thousands of LR questions, I could read the stimulus and know what kind of question that was coming without ever reading the question stem.


No

User avatar
jdhopeful11
Posts: 481
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:39 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby jdhopeful11 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:35 pm

stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem
stem

User avatar
JohnnyTrojan08
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby JohnnyTrojan08 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:53 pm

loveistheway wrote:
JohnnyTrojan08 wrote:
If you know what you're doing and practice hard, driving manual in Mario Kart Wii takes more work than driving automatic. But if you master it, you win more. 8)

Same thing with reading the LSAT question stem first.


180

ram jam wrote:I found that once I did thousands of LR questions, I could read the stimulus and know what kind of question that was coming without ever reading the question stem.


No


Lolz :roll:

Maybe some people are better at intuiting the question stem, while some of us prefer to be precise. If one of my clients was scoring a 178, there's no way I'd suggest changing anything. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Mid 160s, though... I bet there's some room for improvement by experimenting with some strategies based on identifiable weaknesses.

User avatar
gymboree
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:48 am

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby gymboree » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:59 pm

I think what you're seeing here is indicative of the entire LSAT - you do best on the LSAT when you do what works for YOU. To do that, you need to practice, practice, practice and watch for your patterns: make an honest assessment of yourself and your weaknesses. Review your mistakes as much as your successes, or even more so.

Find out WHY you're getting it wrong. It doesn't have much to do with any one particular method and how it worked for other people.

Stop looking outside yourself for the answer. It's like the play the Blue Bird and movie Wizard of Oz -- what you're looking for is not out in the world, it's with you all the time. :D

notanumber
Posts: 485
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:28 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby notanumber » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:00 pm

swc65 wrote:^^^ LOL two high 170s with -2 on LR advocating the exact opposite appraoch..


Actually, at a fundamental level we're ultimately advocating the same approach:

Don't over-think the test or get lost in formal rules and strategies.

dshirs32
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:36 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby dshirs32 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:04 pm

I scored a 164 and I always read the stimulus first. I don't want the question stem to bias my reading of the stimulus.

User avatar
jdhopeful11
Posts: 481
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:39 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby jdhopeful11 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:07 pm

dshirs32 wrote:I scored a 164 and I always read the stimulus first. I don't want the question stem to bias my reading of the stimulus.


how would a question stem bias your reading of the stimulus???

User avatar
JohnnyTrojan08
Posts: 80
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: Those who score 160+..Stimulus or question stem first?(POLL)

Postby JohnnyTrojan08 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:13 pm

dshirs32 wrote:I scored a 164 and I always read the stimulus first. I don't want the question stem to bias my reading of the stimulus.


Could you explain what you mean by "bias"?

I definitely approach the stimulus differently based on what the question is asking me. That's being biased, but that's the whole point. I WANT to treat each stimulus differently, because the LSAT is asking me to do something different!

I honestly believe that if people have a solid understanding of what each stem is actually asking them to do, then being "biased" with the stimulus can only be helpful.

It's like this ("Quotes are the LSAT", --> is what I think):

"Chop this lumber for me in perfect cubes" --> I think to myself, OK, weird, but where's the lumber?

"Here's the lumber" --> Great, let's get started!

versus

"Here's the lumber" --> OK, lumber... what'll I be building?

"Chop this lumber for me in perfect cubes" --> What? OK, let me look at how I'm going to do this...




Return to “LSAT Prep and Discussion Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests